Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Aging of Beer

When I first came to Germany I noticed right away that the beer tasted different than in the States. It tasted clean and fresh, with good hop character and a tasty malt profile. While traveling through Belgium and the Netherlands I've noticed that the Belgian style beers either taste the way they do in the States or a little different.

In the States the dominant character of Belgian beer in my mind is the yeast. It adds all the esters, light fusals, phenols, and the typical bready flavor. What I wasn't ready for when I tried my first fresh Belgian beer is that the hops are very forward in most styles. They're bitter! Also the lack of aging allows fresh malt character I'm not used to in a Belgian beer.

To tell the truth, I like the aged Belgian beers that I get in the States compared to the same product only a few weeks old. And that leads me to my question if anyone is still reading this beer blog:

How do you store your beer? Why do you celler beer? What kinds of beer do you celler and what do you think it'll achieve? What's your oldest beer? Will you invite me over to drink your oldest beer?

I've been in the school of thought that beer should be drank fresh and only Lambics should be aged. However, two of my favorite Belgian beers, Westmalle's tripel and dubbel, I can say taste far better a little old.


Colin said...

Most of my beer is cellared in the cool darkness of the basement/brewery. On a brewing perspective, I think all of the Belgian style beers we turn out gain a complexity from proper storage and bottle conditioning, especially the bigger ones. As far as storage and handling of commercial beers,substantial beers like Dark Strongs, Russian Imperial Stouts, Barley wines definitely benefit. Although some of the older barley wines seem to peak after a couple years and kind of turn into an oxidized raisin ( especially hoppy American versions)which is fine, just not my thing. Just had a bottle of 92 Foghorn that was kind of like that. . Triples
I'm not so sure of, I think they are best consumed within a year. . I've had some vintage Westvleteren which has been
absolutely sublime, as with one of my all time favorites De Dolle Stille Nacht. There are some bottles of 1996 in the cellar that I may be persuaded to share sometime on the future. Other than that it's bottles of Trader Joes Hefe for you with a fat slice of lemon when you come over. Overall, I would say that the darker Belgian beers definitely benefit with a little age. Someone just popped a vintage Magnum of Chimay a few weeks ago (1995 I believe that had peeked and gone bye bye) oh well.

Mr. Kyle, Brewer said...

I'm just starting a collection. I have a bigfoot from this year and a burbon county stout from this year. I also finally have my own barley wine that I just bottled and hope to leave be for at least 6 months and then save a few for years. I'm going out to get the Avery "Demons of Ale" series next week as well.

I think that the thick highly alcoholic beers fair the best with time. The RIS I made that was a disaster actually started to taste great after about 5 months. I don't know exactly why but the way things just seem to mellow and meld together in those thick ridiculous beers taste great!

I also think that spiced beers have wonderful qualities after time. I've noticed that an older spiced beers (wit, saison, fruit beers) also evolve into a new beer after time. With the spice fading away to get to see more of the underlying beer.

this is making me thirsty...